Reviewed by Jeanne
Librarian Charlie Harris has enjoyed working as an archivist at Athena College, usually accompanied by his enormous Maine Coon cat, Diesel. Diesel is quite the hit among staff and patrons alike, but now a complaint has been brought by none other than the new library director, Oscar Reilly. This is pretty much the last straw for Charlie: Reilly has been nothing but abrasive to all the staff, from the professional librarians to the administrative staff. He isn’t even a librarian, but a financial consultant and he seems less interested in the library’s function than in what assets it holds—assets that could be turned into cash. The entire rare books and archives collection, for example.
Before Charlie can decide whether or not to resign rather than soldier on in a now joyless job, Reilly is murdered. There’s little question that it’s an inside job, especially since he’s found crushed in the moving book stacks, but who on the staff was driven to kill?
This is the seventh entry in the Cat in the Stacks mysteries, a cozy series set in Mississippi. Charlie is a warm, genial widower with two grown children, a housekeeper, a love interest, and, of course, Diesel. The pace is leisurely, with time out for meals and atmosphere. I found this one to be a particularly good entry because I enjoyed seeing Charlie take charge a bit more. In general, he presents a gracious face even if he is angry or upset with someone; this time, he was a bit more forthright and firm which warmed my cowardly little heart.
I also particularly enjoyed the good use the author made of the library setting with some inside library jokes. For example, one of the problem employees is a cataloger. Catalogers just have that sort of reputation in the profession, justified or not. A couple of years ago, during interviews for the job of library director at least half the candidates chose some aspect of dealing with a cataloger to represent a professional challenge. It’s really a double joke, though, because Miranda James is a pseudonym for Dr. Dean James, a librarian and a serials cataloger at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
However, I do wonder how many patrons are going to read the book and avoid our moving stacks in genealogy. . . .
(P.S., The cataloger with whom I work is a charming individual!)